Sunday Slide: July 29, 2012

My dear and faithful readers: Why slide? Because everything in Jamaica truly is tilting into a pre-Jamaica 50, Olympic Games torpor. Scarcely anything moved on our street today except the gardener. Even he paused in his work occasionally to gaze dreamily up at the trees, for no particular reason (although it could be that he had spotted our baldpates’ nest high in our guango tree). Yes… It is very warm, the sky is the color of bone china painted with white clouds… And one could easily imagine that Jamaica has not a care in the world.

Guango tree
The beautiful guango tree in our yard – my first attempt at taking a photo with my android phone…

A Jamaican tweeted plaintively this evening: Is there anything else happening in Jamaica apart from dancehall, ATI partying, drinking liquor and idle chatter?”  Well, very little else. Translation: “ATI” is a special breed of party that crops up at this time of year – full name Appleton Temptation Island. The ads, featuring a sultry and curvaceous woman draped around a large snake (or vice versa) urges us to “unleash our wild side,” next weekend, in the tourist resort of Negril, for three days over the Independence Day Weekend (August 3 – 6). Yes, three days of “drinking responsibly.”  Young (and not-so-young) women in what we used to call “batty riders” (short shorts) and bikini tops will gyrate energetically with cute young (and not-so-young) men, holding plastic cups of Appleton aloft and appearing to have a pretty wild time. Their photographs will adorn the social pages the following week. If you want to experience this fascinating phenomenon of Jamaican middle-class social life for yourself – the non-stop, all-inclusive party – the ATI website link is below. Buy yourself a party package today! There, I have given them a good “plug.”

ATI launch
Models give a rather sedate version of what you can expect at Appleton Temptation Island. Where’s the snake?

But hold on, there is Smirnoff Dream Weekend too? Also in Negril? Eleven parties in six days? I’m speechless. As the partygoers will no doubt be after around Day Three.

Well, so let’s start with what didn’t happen this week. There were, so far as I know, no charges laid against the two local politicians who were arrested amidst great drama in early morning raids, on suspicion of their involvement in the horrible “lotto scam.” However, they both appeared in court this week. The Deputy Mayor‘s son pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal firearm, and his father was bailed; the other councilor was charged with illegal possession of…a flat-screen television set. However, although many are declaring that this is an anti-climax of major proportions, we must allow the law to take its course. There may well be more to follow. Let’s stay tuned.

Michael and Jevaughn Troupe
Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Michael Troupe and his son in the back of a police truck following their arrest.

The Education Minister did not make a flowery speech. Or did he? Please correct me if I am wrong.

Sadly, too, the Tacky Heritage Group’s all-island walk was not completed, after its leader developed blisters on the soles of his bare feet. Derrick “Black X” Robinson was advised not to continue, after walking from Montego Bay to St. Mary, along the north coast. The purpose of the walk was to lobby for Tacky, a Coromantee chief who led slaves to a rebellion in 1760, to be named a National Hero. Tacky really did start a pretty serious rebellion, which lasted for three months. Tacky was killed by a Maroon marksman called Davy, who cut off his head – later stuck on a pole in Spanish Town. Harsh and cruel times.

Water also failed to run in the pipes of many Jamaicans this week. The drought is kicking in, especially in the parched city of Kingston. There are layers of Saharan dust in the atmosphere – still. So, no rain. I was greatly chagrined to be watching a television news report from St. Mary this week, however, to see huge puddles and rain dripping from the roofs. Not fair!

Mr. Robinson and companion on Tacky Walk
The road less traveled: Mr. Robinson and a companion walk for Tacky. The asphalt road clearly burned his feet; wouldn’t it have been better to walk on the grass verge, Mr. Robinson?… Too late, now.

Another non-event: The Government increased the minimum wage by 11 per cent, and those for security guards by 10 per cent, effective September 3. This was, as usual, announced with much fanfare. Considering that the employers of these minimum wage-earners are not getting similar wage rises, and their costs are going up daily, this will serve no purpose except to make some employers consider laying people off. Not that I think the minimum wage is too high – of course it’s not. But it’s a futile exercise.

Parliamentarians appeared rather chilled last week, with one government senator exchanging light banter with the opposition. There was cordial laughter – not the braying sound usually emitted in Parliament, which passes for laughter. In this relaxed mood, the Lower House tabled legislation for Jamaica to join the Caribbean Court of Justice. There is much, much more to be said on this topic. The Opposition – and a sizable number of Jamaicans – believe that this issue should be put to a referendum. This is an issue that will rear its head again soon, for sure. Stay tuned on this one…

The Commissioner of Police announced a 13.3 per cent drop in major crimes so far this year. However, murders (not a major crime?) are up by three per cent. He did tell us that we are “by no means out of the woods” – just in case we all thought we had emerged into the sunlight. Much work still to be done.

Oh, by the way, we are expecting not one, but two African leaders to visit our shores next week for “Jamaica 50.” South Africa’s Jacob Zuma will be here for a three-day visit on August 4, preceded by Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan. Some Jamaicans are muttering, “I hope he brings us some good luck, too…some oil, maybe.”

But of course, the major obsession in the past week has been the London Olympics. The extraordinary focus on Usain Bolt as the poster boy of London has made Jamaicans’ hearts swell with pride. Some of us even decided the ugly team kit wasn’t so bad, after all. Excitement reached fever pitch. Then, when a few negative reports slipped in under the radar about Bolt & Co., some Jamaicans became peevish, insisting that the whole thing was a dark (American) conspiracy against the Jamaican team. I think a little perspective is needed, at this point. Yes, it’s wonderful for Mr. Bolt’s image to be plastered over the Houses of Parliament (although I thought that was overkill) – but let’s just remember that there is a difference between a journalist looking for a good juicy story and a public relations practitioner putting a lovely gloss on things.

Usain Bolt
My favorite photo of the irrepressible Mr. Usain Bolt in London, courtesy of Reuters.

Excitement reached fever pitch for the Opening Ceremony, although again there were complaints about the small amount of lens time given to the team. Conspiracy again. One tweeter complained that the camera spent too much time on Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Jamaican Ambassador to the United Kingdom Aloun Assamba, when it could have been focused on our soon-to-be-heroes in their Cedella Marley military gear. Complaints flooded in about the quality of the exclusive coverage for Jamaica, which left a great deal to be desired and was almost non-existent for some. But despite some initial bafflement and barely-suppressed yawns from many Jamaican viewers, Mr. Bean was a huge hit and both David Beckham and Daniel Craig provided some marvelous eye candy for yours truly. Despite my nervous disposition, I could certainly pluck up the courage to dash along a fire-lined canal in a speedboat with David. I would even jump out of a helicopter with Daniel. The kids in pajamas were cute, too – but in a very different way of course.

David Beckham Driving Olympic Torch Boat Opening Ceremony
Woo hoo!! The dashing David…

Meanwhile, news in brief:

Three American tourists went missing off a cruise ship, but were found comfortably installed in a guest house not far away.

Several Jamaicans were shot dead, some by the police (see below).

The police destroyed a huge pile of drugs at a secret location.

They also seized large amounts of cocaine, and some guns, in various operations across the island. Kudos.

And major kudos to…

Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, DC, the intrepid Jamaican Dr. Claire Nelson. The White House honored her today as one of nine “Champions of Change” for fostering U.S.-Caribbean partnerships and supporting the Caribbean diaspora. She’s a trained engineer and a proud alumna of Kingston’s St. Hugh’s High School. The Champions of Change program is administered by the U.S. State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.

Mr. Brandon Allwood, Mr. Dominic McKenzie, Ms. Nekeisha Lewis and all the young members of Help JA Children, a lobby group that was established after the horrific article in the Jamaica Observer on child abuse in Jamaica. And to Mr. Samuel The group organized a highly successful and high-profile march in Kingston on May 1. They have now launched a Child Abuse Reporting System (CARS) – a BlackBerry application that allows you to report child abuse on the spot. It is only the second application of its kind in the world, available now and free in BlackBerry App World, approved by Research in Motion, and the first in the region. Of course, as we all know, young people are technology-focused. This is the way to go. I look forward to the app being available for android phones, as I do love my Samsung Galaxy! Shameless ad there…

Founder of Help JA Children Brandon Allwood
A dedicated young man: Founder of Help JA Children Brandon Allwood speaks at the launch of CARS

More on Help JA Children, and the CARS launch, in a future blog post! And meanwhile, don’t forget to party!

On a serious and very sad note…

As is my custom, I extend deepest sympathies to the family and friends of all those listed below (and any others I may have missed) who lost their lives at the hands of others last week. We actually happened to know one of them – a mason, who did some building work for us – who apparently witnessed a shooting, and was killed himself as a result. His nickname was “Concord.” Rest in peace; you died far, far too young.

In Memoriam

Roger Robinson, 37, Rae Town Fishing Beach, Kingston

Paulette Morrison, 15, Majesty Gardens, Kingston

Anthony Johnson, 34, Stony Hill, St. Andrew

Ragland Flemings, 51, Stony Hill, St. Andrew

Derrick Irving, 42, Stony Hill, St. Andrew

Boy, 16, Slipe, St. Elizabeth

Lisha Wang, 28, Mount Salus, St. Andrew

Unidentified man, Port Maria, St. Mary

Killed by the police:

Ferron Baker, 26, Oakland Road, Kingston

Unidentified man, Stony Hill, St. Andrew

Kevon Brown, Hendon/Norwood, St. James

Patrick Wedderburn, Hendon/Norwood, St. James

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37 thoughts on “Sunday Slide: July 29, 2012

  1. Hi Petchary –

    Hope all is well. Just checking to see if you were able to make any contact with that detective. I tried to reach him, but wasnt able to contact him.

    Thanks again.

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    1. Yes, we finally reached the detective today. He said the two suspects have fled the area; no arrests made yet, but they are hopeful they can find one of them (“Blood”). But they have witness statements and are “actively pursuing” the case and he sounded reasonably optimistic..

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      1. http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130426/news/news12.html

        Please Read article…I thought I had accomplished capturing 1 of the killers involved in my husbands death..only to find out he escaped. Then I have the superintendant of police stating that this was a drowning…which is true..only after he was beaten-tied up with an anchor around his feet then thrown overboard…They are so not doing there job especially if they have someone in custody n then they escape..Also if the superintendant is saying…cause of death drowning???? I’m so upset on how the justice system operates in Jamaica…if this was the Usa…both killers would be behind bars already…

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  2. Hi, I wrote in once before I dont know if it would be at all possible to get the names of the people of interest from Ellinston Road Police Kingston 16 in Rae town publishing that if anyone has information in the murder of my husband Roger C. Robinson to give them a call. I believe that there was a broadcast via television with anyone knowing where 2 individuals were to give the detectives/police a call. I would so much appreciate it. I really want justice. Thank You.

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    1. Dear Rachael: I will give them a call tomorrow and see what I can find out. It’s Elletson Road police station – I can also send you their phone number if you want and you could call them yourself. But I will also try to find the names as I think they were in the media. All the best to you, take care.

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    2. Rachael, I just wanted to let you know I have not forgotten about this. I will see if I can find something about these names that were put out. This is something the police do regularly but they don’t often say which crimes these men are wanted for. I spoke with my husband and he says he will call Elletson Road Police Station. Do you have the name of a police officer/detective who was investigating your husband’s murder? I do hope that you and your children are doing well. Please take care.

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      1. Thank you for staying on top of this for me. . My children are still trying to cope with this awful event. The Detectives name is Mr. Granson who is investigating the case. I know that they have identified 2 individuals for questioning, however I am uncertain of there names. I believe it was Corey and another guy with a nick name Blood or Bloody. I appreciate all your help and thank your husband as well.
        Thanks in advance. Rachael

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      2. No problem at all. I can imagine how devastated you all must be. They might need some counseling – it really does help, if you are not already doing that.

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  3. Thank you so very much. Since my husband did indeed have a mental illness and was a victim of such a horrible crime I make it my duty to stay in touch with the police as well as his family in Jamaica for updates. Im his voice!!!! I just want justice, even though it will never bring him back.

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    1. I understand. And yes, do keep in touch with the police. If you can find one detective that you can really talk to, then keep him focused on it, that would be good. The police are overwhelmed with work and very short on resources so you will have to make sure you keep them on it… I do hope that you get the justice that you, your family and your husband deserve.

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      1. Hi. Just cant get over the fact that its been almost 6 months since my husband Roger Robinson was killed on the Rae Town Fishing Beach & no arrests. It sure doesnt look like the Jamaican police go out of there way to bring killers to justice.

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      2. Dear Rachel: It’s strange, I was thinking about that just a few days ago when I heard lots of news about the reduced murder rate (not reduced by much). As I reported to you, my husband did talk to the police and it sounded as if they were working on it. Did you have any contact with them yourself? The police are tremendously under-resourced and with such a high crime rate, frankly, I don’t think they are able to cope. I am so, SO sorry but let me know if you need any more help. Take care and very best wishes.

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      3. Good Afternoon Petchary,
        I recently heard that one of the men, Corey involved in my husband’s murder was recently killed in St. Thomas. This still does not make me feel any better. I have contacted the Detective on the case so justice can be served, however he indicated that the people involved left the area. What can I do to make the public in Jamaica know that these certain individuals are on the run and are wanted by the police??? You have been such a great help, Please advise.

        Thank You…Rachael

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      4. Dear Rachael: I am really not sure what to say. Very often the police do put out notices about wanted individuals, with descriptions etc. I absolutely don’t know what to advise you. Probably the police don’t have enough information, names etc., to be able to post such notices. Do you know how many individuals were involved? These people do move around the island a lot and are also known by different names. I don’t know who else you could contact apart from the Detective or the Ministry of National Security. That would be the only possibility perhaps – to write directly to the Minister, Peter Bunting. It would be like going right to the top but you never know, it might get results… Or you may simply get no response at all. If I think of another way, I will let you know. I think it is going to be very difficult to find the people. I am so very sorry I can’t be of more help… Very best wishes, Emma

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  4. I was reading and saw the name of my late husband, Roger Robinson in the Memorium section. I would like to say that Roger was a great husband and father. Unfortunately over the last several years he has suffered from severe mental illness. I pray that his brutal death does not go unpunished. I am currently in the United States and hope and pray that the police do an active investigation in this matter. My son has no father, since someone choose to take the life of his father way too soon at the age of 37. Roger was beaten on The Rae Town fishing beach and thrown over board to die. Too much violence.

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    1. Dear Mrs. Robinson: I am so sorry to hear of you and your son’s loss. My deepest condolences to you. I post this list every week, because I want to share my condolences and sadness with the grieving families. They are so often forgotten. I read the news report and it mentioned that your husband was suffering from mental illness. In Jamaica’s harsh society, such individuals are often marginalized, ignored and also victimized. It is absolutely tragic, an ongoing tragedy. I do hope that justice will be done and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. I will look out for any media reports. Meanwhile, once again my deepest sympathies to you and your son. Thank you for contacting me.

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  5. Very Informational. The end there is so sad. But at least someone is telling the story about those murdered. How about people killed by police? Is that mostly the result of a shoot-out or something?

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    1. Hi Nifti, and thanks so much for your comments. Every week I list the names of those who have been murdered. Our homicide rate is not going down and is one of the highest in the world. So every week, I like to remind people. I feel for the grieving families, who are mostly forgotten about. How do they handle such grief and shock? The police version of these events always differs drastically from what the residents say (there are almost always eye witnesses, but they are often afraid to appear in court). The police usually say it’s a shootout and that a gun was found on the deceased. The residents often say the person (usually a young man) was killed in cold blood. There was outrage recently over the killing of a youth leader – he was reportedly in his bedroom. It is a very dark area in our society. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have published regular reports on police killings in Jamaica.

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  6. The week really felt so laid back. My biggest craze has been the mad hunt for Grand Gala tickets lol that story will be arriving later on 🙂 And now I’m more disappointed in the fact that they’ve opted to paint the St. Ann’s Bay clock tower as opposed to draping with fabric. My heart bleeds.

    strangely I’m not that excited about the Olympics .. wish everyone the best! Facebook makes it easy to know what’s going on too…. As for ATI 6 days of partying???? WHY? Though everyone is warned to drink responsibly I sense a build up in nearby hospitals …. i must really be getting old here.

    ‘What never happened’ is so right! N once again … Moment of Silence for the one’s we’ve lost!

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    1. Yes, it was as if everything had taken a few steps back. I didn’t mention the Grand Gala ticket fiasco. Apparently they got the tickets hours ahead of the time they said they would be selling them, and all those who were there hours early snapped them up. It seemed very unfair – I hope the tickets weren’t “syphoned off” for friends and family etc. And I hope we don’t see any empty seats in the stadium! As has happened at the Olympics – huge blocks of seats reserved for sponsors were empty while people who really wanted to see the events were told tickets were sold out. I haven’t been REALLY excited about the Olympics too and got so tired of the hype over our athletes – just too much. But now that it’s started, I am actually rather hooked on all the different events. I am watching the little girls doing gymnastics now. I am going to write a post about my impressions. The athletes in all the different sports are so amazing. Yes, why six days indeed? Isn’t a weekend enough? I have heard that people have been taking out loans so they can go. $20,000 for the Smirnoff whatever; that would be back to school expenses for an inner city kid. Seems kinda wrong. They talk about drinking but my son told me years ago that every kind of drug is available too if you want it… The “in memoriam” hurt me this week when we realized that “Concord” had lost his life that way, shot dead in the little street side shop he used to hang out in almost every day. He was one of those guys who was always around… Sigh. Well, another week has begun! Have a good one…

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    1. Guango trees are so beautifully proportioned, huge and spreading. This is still quite a young one (about twenty years old – we have lived with it since it was a sapling!) Things flourish underneath its boughs, as it collects water in its leaves. Our dogs love to eat its long, sticky seed pods.

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      1. I saw the bougainvillea and the other vine … do you know what birds have their nests there? The same species, or different? It’s a real habitat location type of tree, isn’t it?

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      2. Yes, it is a habitat all on its own. Large tropical trees are like that, aren’t they? Their own little ecosystems – orchids, bromeliads and all kinds of birds and other creatures. We definitely have a baldpate nest (that’s our local name for the beautiful White-Crowned Pigeon), a White Winged Dove and I think a Saffron Finch. There may be others. A woodpecker spends a lot of time up there but I think mostly just feeding…

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      3. Actually, I haven’t seen/heard them around lately. They seem to have lost interest in our guango tree for the moment… Hope they will be back (it’s really a male and a female who have been hanging out with us)…

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      4. So maybe the found another tree more to their liking. But I agree, it’s always nice to hear them hammering away, though I used to worry a little when they set to on the window of the car!

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